Allentown Art Museum

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Allentown Art Museum
PA-LEHIGH-ALLENTOWNARTMUSEUM.jpg
Established 1934
Location 31 N. 5th Street
Allentown, Pennsylvania USA
Website Official website

The Allentown Art Museum is an art museum located in the city of Allentown, Pennsylvania, in the United States. It was founded in 1934 by a group organized by noted Pennsylvania impressionist painter, Walter Emerson Baum. With its collection of over 13,000 works of art, the Allentown Art Museum is a major regional art institution. In addition, its library and archives of more than 16,000 titles and 40 current periodicals make it an important regional cultural resource.

Founding of the museum[edit]

The "Allentown Art Gallery" was organized by Baum and opened in Allentown's Hunsicker School on March 17, 1934. With seventy canvases by local Pennsylvania impressionist artists on display, the gallery attracted major attention from the local and regional art communities. During the Great Depression, Baum was able to grow the collection through the Public Works of Art Project and through acquisitions and gifts. In June 1936, the City of Allentown granted the museum a permanent home in a Federal-style house located in the Rose Garden in Allentown's Cedar Park. The museum's first curator was local artist John E. Berninger, who lived with his wife on the museum's second floor.

The Kress endowment[edit]

In 1959, a gift of fifty-three Renaissance and Baroque paintings and sculptures from Samuel H. Kress (a native of nearby Cherryville, Pennsylvania) brought the museum to a new level. The Kress gift stimulated community visionaries and museum friends to purchase and refurbish a building, formerly the First Presbyterian Church (originally built 1902), suitable to house the new collection.

In 1960, the Kress gift was featured in the museum's first major catalog, "The Samuel H. Kress Memorial Collection", written by Richard Hirsch, the institution's first director. In his introduction, Hirsch's observed how the "fleeting imagery of TV" changed perceptions of the works in the collection. When created, they were not merely one of many representations of religious figures, but the figures themselves. [1] Hirsch's observations portend the Slow Movement arising more than 25 years later encouraging a renewed, attentive appreciation of the world, including fine art. The museum began featuring "Slow Art" days in 2011 to acknowledge the benefits of quiet, intense reflection.

In 1975, an Edgar Tafel-designed expansion to the building was completed to enhance the museum's programs and collecting plans. At that time, the Museum installed a room designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as part of its permanent collection: the library from the second Francis W. Little House. Another room from that house can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

2010-2011 expansion[edit]

In 2010, the museum began a $15.4 million expansion project, designed by architecture firm Venturi Scott Brown of Philadelphia, to renovate the museum, add 7,900 square feet (730 m2) of new classroom and gallery space, corner cafe, expanded gift shop, and add an new all-glass facade to the Fifth Street side of the facility. The expansion, which is the museum's first since 1975, was initially proposed in 1999 and is a significant reduction from the $32 million, 45,000-square-foot (4,200 m2) addition originally planned.[2] Approximately 40% of the new space will be gallery space. During construction, which is scheduled to begin November 15, 2010 and run until September, 2011, the museum will be closed to the public.[3]

Current collection[edit]

The Allentown Art Museum's collection, still largely defined by European paintings in 1975, expanded with a large collection of textiles and another gift of works on paper. The 1978 acquisition of Gilbert Stuart's beguiling portrait of Ann Penn Allen (granddaughter of William Allen, the founder of the museum's native Allentown), set the benchmark for the qualitative standards of the collection.

European art[edit]

American art[edit]

Textiles[edit]

  • Bed Curtain (Palampore), India, Coromandel Coast (1775)
  • Table Cover, Margaret Oothout (1764)

Prints and drawings[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Samuel H. Kress Memorial Collection of the Allentown Art Museum. Allentown, Pa. The Museum, 1960
  2. ^ Moser, John J. (April 24, 2010), Art museum plans smaller expansion ** Economy hurts fundraising,but a $15.4 million project is set to begin next month., The Morning Call: A.1 
  3. ^ Sozanski, Edward (August 15, 2010), Art: What is art's place in the picture?, The Philadelphia Inquirer 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°36′15″N 75°28′05″W / 40.6043°N 75.4680°W / 40.6043; -75.4680